Do you ever stumble across information that illuminates an element of your character with all the subtlety of a spotlight? It happens to me a lot. I once heard some research which stated that when presented with shortcomings in ourselves, we tend to make excuses for them based on circumstance. Yet, when we see these same faults in others, we will attribute them to deficiencies in character rather than merely a response to circumstance.
If I’m being honest, I don’t have to think long before admitting I am guilty of this. For example, while on a leisure event with the family, we may pull out our smartphones during a lull in activity to check messages or statuses, and brush it off as a quick check, staying in touch, or as responding to an urgent request.
Short moments later we may see other parents focused on their smartphones rather than engaging with their children and we are not so quick to make excuses. We shake our heads, sympathizing with those poor children and how dreadful it must be for them to grow up without the eyes of their parents glued to their every move. Completely unobserved, these unfortunate souls have no hope for developing any semblance of self-esteem. (Ok, that’s a little sarcastic. Perhaps material for another discussion.)
One day while quickly checking news headlines, I came across this article detailing the dangers of texting and walking. People will walk with their eyes on their phone rather than looking about, and all manner of injury is resulting, even going so far as falling down open manholes.
That just seems a little ridiculous, but I move on quickly. It’s not like it really applies to me.
Several months later on a beautiful summer Sunday, my family is off to Spruce Meadows ready to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of horse jumping. Even better, we are meeting Nana and Papa and planning to enjoy the day together. Somewhat typically, we have been slightly delayed and by the time we park our mini-van, we are rushing across the grounds to meet said Grandparents.
I pull out my bright pink new iPhone 5. It is important my parents know we have arrived and imperative we establish contact to arrange a meeting point. Before dropping my head to fire off a text with our current location, I glance about to survey the landscape. Flat black asphalt. I can do this with my eyes closed. I start to text my Dad, thoughtfully including the extraneous details as only a woman does.
Just as I begin my second paragraph, the ground drops away from beneath me. I experience a moment of near weightlessness (an extraordinary feeling!), before crashing face first, spread eagle on the aforementioned not-so-flat black asphalt. A curb separating the sidewalk from the roadway, has been cleverly disguised in the sea of black. I have a rich heritage of clumsiness and we are not content to limit our displays of awkwardness to small audiences. (Sorry affected family, there are so many other perks which more than make up for this.) In an instinct of lineage, the area I choose to fall on my face is right in front of the washroom facilities crowded with people waiting their turn.
I lay there motionless for several seconds, cataloging all the places that hurt. By now my husband, children and a few concerned strangers are gathered around me. My dear husband helps me to my feet all the while commentating (unnecessarily I might add) on how he heard this loud thump, and while he had initially assumed it would be one of the children falling he knew the noise was too loud to be one of them, so he’d looked behind him and sure enough, it was me!
Throughout his replay, a dear elderly lady keeps insisting he pick me up and carry me. I am clearly to injured to walk any further. (She is obviously suffering from some vision impairment, though, once again, I did not appreciate my husband’s smirk at the suggestion.)
I manage to assure everyone I will indeed be able to carry on, and begin limping towards the horse arena. My only hope is that most of the people in line, were too preoccupied with their phones to notice the spectacle. I glance down at my new phone, now scratched and very dusty. Throughout it all, I had never let go of her; she remained clutched in my scraped and bruised hand.
Ever attentive, she now questions me, would I like to undo typing and cancel the text. Yes. Please.